What are the Occupational Risks of Working on a Production Line?
It is no secret that human involvement on the modern day production line is becoming less and less. Advancements in technology has given us quicker, more accurate production and lower cost workforces based outside of the UK is ultimately driving more and more employees out of the industry.
Earlier this year a manufacturing plant based in Speke announced 140 job losses which was soon followed by huge announcement by a known confectionary giant that their production lines were to be moved to Poland leaving 300 employees out of work .
Many of the UK’s production line workers are not only staring redundancy in the face but they also have to carry out physically taxing work on a daily basis. Increased targets due to higher demand mean that employees have to work faster and harder which can lead to various health issues.
In 2015/16 the Health and Safety executive reported that 41% of all work related illnesses were musculoskeletal disorders . These can range from minor finger and wrist injuries to extremely debilitating conditions such as slipped discs and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Repetitive Strain Injuries – Production Lines
As industrial disease and work related illness claims handlers, we have many clients who have worked on assembly lines that now suffer from muscle and skeletal disorders. Due to repetitive movements and hard, fast impact tasks, employees of the production line industry are at high risk. Using the same joints and muscle groups over and over for long periods of time is likely to cause repetitive strain injury if regular breaks are not provided by employers.
RSI conditions caused by work:
- Cubital Tunnel Syndrome – This is when the ulnar nerve is pinched in the elbow becoming very uncomfortable for the sufferer. It causes pain, tingling and numbness down the arm and in the ring and little fingers.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Compression on the median nerve that travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist causes pain and discomfort including numbness and tingling in the thumb, index and middle finger.
- Tendinitis – This can affect many different areas in the body including shoulders, wrists, hands and elbows. Tendons become swollen and tear causing pain and lack of mobility
- Epicondylitis – More commonly known as golfers elbow or tennis elbow, Epicondylitis is usually caused by twisting or extension of the tendons that are connected to the bone in the elbow. 
Hearing Loss due to Production Lines
Work related upper limb disorders are not the only thing that can occur when working on assembly lines. Due to noisy equipment and machinery, workers are susceptible to noise induced hearing loss. Not all machinery on production lines is deemed to be excessively noisy or breach the noise levels required for hearing protection. It is however, important to be mindful of your proximity to large machinery and how long you are spending in the noise on a daily basis.
Asthma and Skin Conditions
If the production line you work on is for the purpose of food goods or machinery it is possible that you are being exposed substances found on the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) list. Ingredients such as flour can cause respiratory conditions that are compensable such as Occupational Asthma. Whereas liquids and chemicals for example lemon juice can cause skin conditions leading to Occupational Dermatitis.
If you do work with COSHH substances it is down to your employer to ensure that you are provided (and wear) suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). For chemicals you may be provided with overalls and latex gloves and for airborne substances properly fitted dust masks should be available.
Health and Safety – Employers Liability Insurance
It is your employers responsibility, and in their best interests, to ensure they provide a safe working environment for all their staff no matter how big or small the risk is. They are bound by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974  to follow strict procedures and minimize safety risks in the workplace. There are things you can do as an employee though such as follow instructions and training correctly, request PPE if it is not available, follow safety signage that may be displayed and ensure all concerns, complaints or incidents are formally noted down in writing.
All employers are covered by an insurance policy called Employers Liability Insurance in the event of any health and safety failings. If you have been affected by a work related condition, industrial disease or an accident at work you are covered by your employer’s policy and it is possible to bring a claim by taking legal action.
How we can help
Roberts Jackson Solicitors are an award winning law firm with over 20 years’ experience in getting the compensation that industrial workers deserve. Occupational Asthma, Noise Induced Hearing Loss, Occupational Dermatitis (skin conditions), Repetitive Strain Injuries and Back Injuries are very common in the production line and compensation can be claimed by anyone who has been affected by any of these conditions due to work. If you think that you or anyone you know have been affected please get in touch and we will be able to provide FREE legal advice and bring a claim for compensation on your behalf.